Alphonso Hodge is Adjusting to Life in the NFL

When I first saw Alphonso Hodge working on the practice field, I had a passing thought, "This guy looks just like James Hasty." I immediately put the thought out of my head. Hodge is a rookie, a fifth round pick by the Kansas Chiefs earlier this year. That's a huge thing to say about a kid.

As I watched the Cleveland native throughout last training camp, I kept having that thought over and over again. It was something about the way Hodge carried himself and how he defended the various wide receivers throughout drills. Even when he got beat, there was something there, something different, that let me to a single conclusion: Alphonso Hodge is going to be special.

Yeah, I said it. Remember, you heard it from me first. I know linebacker Derrick Johnson is the one with all the expectations. Head Coach Dick Vermeil has let it be known that he expects Johnson to compete for rookie of the year. Although Johnson may make the strongest immediate impact, he won't be the only Chiefs rookie who'll pay dividends for years to come. Even though he's raw, Hodge has the tools and the makeup to be an impact player for the Chiefs.

"I'm getting great coaching out here," says Hodge. "I'm working on my hands after practice every day, so its coming to me. I'm starting to get the techniques down. In high school, I was just bigger and faster than everyone, and I really didn't have much technique. Now, I'm playing more of a technique-oriented game, and it's coming to me easier."

In the midst of a seasoned backfield, there are plenty of opportunities to learn from some of the league's best, and the Chiefs are giving him plenty of opportunities to apply what he learns on the field says Hodge. "You've got two of the best back there. You've got Patrick Surtain, who's a Pro Bowler, and you've got Sammy Knight, who's a Pro Bowler. Those guys are so smart. When I first saw them play, it was like they knew (the receiver's) routes. I went and asked them how they knew the routes, and now they're teaching me how to diagnose the routes."

Hodge is in the right place at the right time, and he knows it. When camp first began, Hodge was a little star-struck. "It felt great just to be in a game jersey and to see my name on the back. It was good feeling. I couldn't believe it."

While getting used to being on the NFL field, he's also had to adjust to Cunningham's coaching style. "Gun is…wow," said Hodge. "I've never been coached by anyone like him. He's crazy. He's a crazy guy. He's…vocal." Top Stories